Are you excited about the launch of Apple’s new iPhones? Have you decided to get one? Do you have any idea what you’re buying? If so, you are on your own. When asked where it obtains its minerals, Apple, which has done so much to persuade us that it is deft, cool and responsive, looks arrogant, lumbering and unaccountable.
The question was straightforward: does Apple buy tin from Bangka Island? The wriggling is almost comical.
Nearly half of global tin supplies are used to make solder for electronics. About 30% of the world’s tin comes from Bangka and Belitung islands in Indonesia, where an orgy of unregulated mining is reducing a rich and complex system of rainforests and gardens to a post-holocaust landscape of sand and acid subsoil. Tin dredgers in the coastal waters are also wiping out the coral, the giant clams, the local fisheries, the endangered Napoleon wrasse, the mangrove forests and the beaches used by breeding turtles.